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Thursday, 8 March 2007

The President in Brussels

On 8th March 2007 President Lech Kaczyński went to Brussels, where he shall take part in a session of the European Council. The President is accompanied by Małgorzata Bochenek, Undersecretary of State in the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland.

After his arrival the President met in the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union with Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament. After the meeting President Kaczyński and President Pöttering met with the press.

Next, President Lech Kaczyński took part in a meeting of members of the European Council with the EP President and participated in the 1st working session of the European Council.

In the evening the Polish President took part in a working lunch for Heads of State and Heads of Government. Late in the evening a briefing of Polish press took place with participation of the President.

On 9th March, the second day of his visit in Brussels, Prezydent Kaczyński took part in the 2nd Working Session of the European Council. After the session the President met with reporters at a press conference.

During the press conference the Polish President said:

”We have just had another EU summit – a summit, which had tasks first of all connected with projects concerning climate change as Chancellor Merkel, Chairperson of the European Council put it. In this respect this session was indeed a breakthrough. Admittedly Poland was doing its utmost to have an agreement reached. It was far from easy. Please bear in mind that upon initial reading this was the understanding of many European Council members. It could also seem that each state is supposed by the year 2020 to reach a 20% share of renewable energy – that is one matter. The other is that it is also supposed to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 20%, not to mention a 20% reduction of energy use. In other words, this is not the European average. It is a value determined country-by-country. Naturally this matter is already resolved.

I was talking here about two fundamental premises of solidarity – I spoke about it yesterday – and this finds reflection in the conclusions. That is to say, it is now obvious that each Member State can accept commitments, which will be in line with its starting point. Our starting point is pretty meagre as regards renewable energy, for it stands at 5.5%. It must be noted that – this was in the statement from President Barroso – no country will be forced to adopt the plan I just mentioned, without its consent. Naturally tough discussions lie ahead, but we could either have assumed that the EU is indeed helpless in some matters and Poland (a said this many times) is of the opinion that despite the absence of a Constitutional Treaty it is incapable of acting, which it often demonstrates – or to adopt such solutions, which are indeed ambitious. Please remember that in this respect the main issue were the key points, which in fact do not quite exhaust today’s conclusions, concerning also other matters, such as the Lisbon Strategy or the matter of good laws. I want to note here that these matters were indeed not discussed at all. That is to say, there were conclusions, and then these conclusions were accepted at today’s meeting. If all motions were to be accepted at this pace the meeting would have taken 12, well maybe 15 minutes. However it took 2 hours because all attention was focused on what I said a moment before. And here we were successful also because we were able to put slightly less emphasis on the other aspect connected with the energy sector. Not only the greenhouse effect but also an aspect connected with energy security and solidarity in this respect. This is the conclusion.

Another matter: clarity as to what I said a moment ago, that the percentages are only average values and not those, which apply to each country separately. Finally we were able to have forest areas taken into account. This is the question of carbon dioxide emissions. Forests as it is know absorb CO2 so if a country is considerably afforested – naturally this will not only apply to Poland but to all countries – it will emit a considerable volume of CO2 but it will also absorb a lot of it and what is absorbed will be taken into account in the overall balance, as the conclusions indicate. From Poland’s point of view it is important, especially as emissions are traded in Europe. This means that there are countries, which do not utilise their limit and can sell it to others. Now, in this case Poland backed Madam Chancellor. Why did we extend the support? Because as I said in the beginning, Poland definitely wanted the Summit to end with success. Accepting the principle of a non-binding character, “indicative” character as it is called, would be a failure and further evidence of impotence of the European Union. There were also other political factors coming into play. Specifically I mean our bilateral relations – in this respect our aim has been attained. However we naturally were not opposed. Indeed in my speech today I drew attention to the validity of certain postulates of our allied states from the Visegrad Group, which cherished the biggest doubts. They had doubts although their energy situation is similar to the Polish one. Indeed one may say that Poland is even more dependent on hard coal and lignite in energy generation than these countries. Thus here we applied highly constructive tactics, because for example if we wanted to block this success then this time we would probably not be alone.

As regards matters concerning the Berlin Declaration, which will be adopted in sixteen days, I spoke about it yesterday and today no one revisited the matter during today’s discussions. The meeting today was devoted only to conclusions. Those of you who are permanently accredited here will know that whenever we end the meeting, then specific points get discussed, which the European Council approves one-by-one. This is done by the Presidency and the parties concerned present their comments. I would like to especially thank Madam Minister Ośniecka – Tamecka for her contribution regarding the talks last night and this morning – and also all remaining members of the delegation who made an enormous contribution towards what we were able to achieve, with simultaneously a very constructive approach as regards the ultimate success, because we did not leave our friends in the Visegrad Group at all doubting that we want to have the summit end with success”.

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